Shiflet Sees Tremendous Growth in the Field of Metals and Alloys.

Gary Shiflet, William G Reynolds Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, will soon return to Charlottesville following a three-year appointment as the National Science Foundation’s program director of topical materials research. Shiflet embraced this opportunity to do “big time service” while shepherding U.S. research in alloys and metals. Shiflet focused on two goals: to ensure proposal authors received constructive feedback from experts within their sub-discipline, and to help recent graduates succeed in academia, to include National Science Foundation CAREER research grants for post-doctoral researchers and early-career faculty. “I funded as many NSF CAREER awards as I could,” Shiflet said. “Junior faculty and post docs need help preparing for tenure reviews.” He credits CAREER awards for boosting gender diversity in materials and metallurgy, and for cueing hiring managers to the deep bench of new talent.

Shiflet believes the field of metals and alloys is experiencing tremendous growth, thanks to the interjection of computational materials and the ability to analyze big data, as well as advances in experimental instrumentation such as electron microscopes. These trends are generating work with high-entropy alloys, a strength of UVA Engineering’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Shiflet said. Additionally, the department is building its expertise in additive manufacturing with recent new faculty hires and investments in equipment. Additive manufacturing has strong potential to be a disruptive technology for alloys once much of the science and engineering is better understood. When Shiflet returns to the department this fall, he plans to continue working with junior faculty and post docs, mentoring them in proposal writing and articulating the societal impact of their research.